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Addressing Covid-19's uneven impacts on vulnerable populations in Bangladesh: The case for shock-responsive social protection

As in many countries worldwide, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures aggravated poverty in Bangladesh. Poor and vulnerable population groups were among the hardest hit.  This brief draws on key findings from a UNDP Bangladesh survey on COVID-19 impacts during the pandemic’s first wave in early 2020. It covered 2,500 UNDP beneficiary households (HHs) across the country. In addition to severe income shocks, analysis reveals that the crisis amplified existing multidimensional vulnerabilities among HHs. Existing social safety net (SSN) programmes were inadequate to address different vulnerabilities. Against this backdrop, this brief underscores the need for Bangladesh’s continued attention on reforming its social protection system to make it more employment-focused, shock-responsive and universal in line with national priorities and for COVID recovery.